By: the Raggamuslims
As salaamu alaykum and welcome!
We’ve been waiting for you.
Your reasons for arriving to this point may be varied.
Perhaps an emotional documentary stirred a sensitivity to animal cruelty in your heart. Maybe health challenges arose that merited a plant-based diet or possibly the environmental pollution attributed to the meat and dairy industry has overwhelmed you. No matter what path brought you to this point, welcome.
More than 12 years ago, when my husband and I married, we only knew two other vegan Muslims.
We were both vegan before becoming Muslim and had no compelling reason to abandon our diet for faith. We’ve had our fair share of rice and salad for iftar at the mosque. We’ve answered countless questions about why we choose not to eat meat.
We even traveled the Muslim world, maintaining our plant-based diet from Morocco to Malaysia and many countries in between. Suffice it to say, the vegan Muslim experience is one that we know well, and we’d like to offer a few words of advice for those of you who have recently joined the fold.
Don’t learn to argue, learn to cook.
Debates surrounding veganism and vegetarianism in Islam are pointless.
Whether your critics know it or not, reputable scholars have consistently and repeatedly emphasized the permissibility of eating a vegan or vegetarian diet , as long as one doesn’t condemn the consumption of meat in any and all circumstances.
Some have even encouraged semi-vegetarianism akin to the Prophetic model of occasional consumption of meat. Instead, invest your time in cooking wholesome and balanced meals that showcase the nutritional adequacy and deliciousness of your dietary choice.
Beware of dietary extremes.
The vegan diet isn’t all acai bowls, quinoa salads, and chia pudding.
Neither is it all french-fries, veggie burgers, and soy milk.
Educate yourself about the nutritional needs that support your circumstances, lifestyle, and health condition.
Find sustainable ways to nourish your body with foods that are compatible with your culture, regional food access, and personal palate.
Be cautious of eating any and everything that is vegan because that doesn’t necessarily mean that it should be eaten or is healthy for you.
Leave religion to the religious.
If you’re not particularly observant or keen on practicing Islam as a way of life, don’t feel the need to merely use the faith as a tool to justify your dietary choice.
The Quran and Prophetic Practice offers practical guidance, character development, and spiritual light for all aspects of life.
Extracting verses or traditions without context, understanding, or a deep love for the faith is a great disservice to yourself and others.
It might be more appropriate for you to cite other sources of support that you truly believe in and stand for, whatever they may be.
Filter mainstream vegan jargon and rhetoric.
As Muslims, we share many values with the larger animal rights and vegan community.
However, be mindful of repeating vegan dogma without evaluating which of it is compatible with the teachings and understanding of Islam.
While mercy and compassion are praised virtues in Islam that guide humane animal treatment, they don’t preclude animal slaughter and consumption.
From outside of the faith, one might find dissonance between their own definition of mercy and eating meat, but the observant Muslim should refrain from the absolute (as opposed to conditional) condemnation of eating meat to avoid abandoning the principles that make Islam what it is.
If your only connection to Islam is cultural, then you might not see harm in parroting the ethical vegan script.
But if you are concerned about observing and staying within the guidance of the faith, measure your dietary and social views against the weight of the Holy Qur’an and authentic Prophetic Practice.
Don’t let diet divide you.
There is a beautiful expanse of liberation when you realize that everyone doesn’t need to be exactly like you to love you or be in your life.
In our diverse human experiences and needs, we make different choices for different reasons.
Instead of trying to convert your spouse, parent, or friend to veganism, consider making space for mutual respect and tolerance, sharing of information and understanding, and the embodiment of peace and love.
What we eat is ultimately a means to an end.
If we can all agree on the importance of eating real foods made by whole people with gratitude to the Creator and the hands that have prepared it, we might find ourselves breaking bread with a more colorful cornucopia of humanity than we could have ever imagined.
The Raggamuslims are a vegan family of four who are passionate about travel, unschooling, and living a spiritually, socially, and environmentally sustainable life.
The opinions expressed in this piece belong to Raggamuslims and do not necessarily reflect the views of veganmuslims.com.